For Information, maps, trailhead and route descriptions, click HERE.
Ever since I saw Romsdalshorn for the first time on my trip to Vengedalen in April 2006, I never stopped thinking about that mountain. Of course, I had seen pictures of the mountain, but it never "called out to me". Based on learning about the route difficulties, I was confident that I could climb the mountain (most fit people can), but I was not at the point in my mountaineering career where I could lead such a climb. Therefore, I contacted someone who could. Tore Klokk from Tinder Og Banditter (Peaks and bandits..) took the job.
The idea about actually doing the climb came from a friend of mine. His mother had climbed the mountain as a young girl, and as far as he understood, it was a "walk in the park". I read myself up on the mountain, and told him that Romsdalshorn would be the mother of all parks. I could hear he was in the process of "kissing the mountain goodbye", when he said - "I didn't know there was a rappel involved". After telling him that there was FIVE, he waved the white flag.
But my will to climb this mountain didn't suffer, and I needed to find someone who was willing to share the experience - and .. hrk.. expenses. Another friend of mine, Torill, had recently climbed Store Skagastølstind in a guided party, and would be the ideal candidate. I gave her a call, and after the initial SILENCE, she replied exactly what I had expected her to. This was a chance that she couldn't pass on, even if the mountain probably had horns and a red tail when she tried to picture it.
Getting on with it
After going back and forth with Tore on the date, we finally settled for Aug 12. We met in Isfjorden 08:00AM and headed up Vengedalen to the Romsdalshorn trailhead. We headed out 08:23AM, and took the normal route up to the north ridge. Based on the number of cars, it was obvious that we would not be alone on the mountain. We kept a good pace up to "Gapet" - a gap cutting the ridge. We mounted harness and helmet and continued upwards. Tore attempted to get us ahead of a party that still wasn't quite ready to climb, and led up a short, partly steep and somewhat exposed section until we were in position. But the other team had already started to climb by now. Torill couldn't quite understand how we could climb this mountain, and I agreed that the north wall looked ridiculously steep.
We had five rope lengths of variying difficulty ahead of us - the first two would be the hardest. Tore, who knows this route inside and out, led with an incredible pace. I wasn't able to feed rope fast enough. Torill and I were both on the same belay, which was an efficient way to move. I headed up, and Torill followed immediately after. Climbers popped up everywhere, and soon the route was a web of ropes. The route was exactly how I had thought it to be, not easier and not harder. Some of the moves were a bit harder than I had done on a mountain climb before, but the wall was an eldorado of handholds. Not all were trustworthy, and every move had to be qualified. My fear of causing rockfall was much higher than the fear of falling.
I never felt I climbed ONE distinct route, and in some cases I didn't quite know where to go. There were just too many possibilities. To avoid moving the rope back and forth, I chose to climb straight ahead. Torill had a temporary problem on one of the hardest pitches, but a passing climber pointed out a good handhold, and voila, there she was.
The last three rope lengths were much easier. Tore didn't ask for any belay on lengths 3 and 4, and had to think twice about accepting belay on #5. If it was the fact that the wall wasn't vertical anymore, I don't know, but I felt that -if need be- unroped scrambling on upper section was something I could be comfortable with. Some female UK climbers were in a bad mood - most likely annoyed with some decisions made by Norwegian guides, and one of them gave me a vinegar look when I - carefully - had to touch her rope in order to pass. The few times I've been out climbing, there's always someone who's pissed or sour tempered. This part of mountaineering isn't attractive to me, but I guess it's something I have to live with, in order to reach the very finest of Norwegian mountains.
We arrived Romsdalshornet summit 11:25AM. No cheers yet. The most dangerous part of the climb - the rappel - was still to be. Torill and I were content about the climb. No particular difficulties, an enjoyable climb (with some human exceptions...), a good pace, great weather and a guide with excellent handcraft. After taking pictures, which isn't quite easy, given the flat plateau, and varying elevation of the surrounding mountains, I joined the others for lunch. A cold wind blew in Vengedalen, but never became a topic during the climb. On top, however, we found comfort in our wind-jackets.
We headed towards the rappel point 12:15PM, once it was available to us. Torill and I had practiced rappelling a few days earlier, and the recent practice came to good use. Torill needed the first rappel to get into the "swing of things", but from there on, it was hard to believe that only 1,5 months earlier, she had virtually zero experience with steep and exposed mountains. She had come a long way during the summer, and I hope she was enjoying the descent too.
While I have struggled with a bad case of vertigo over the last years, things seem to be improving. Especially after moving to Sunnmøre. I felt absolutely no adrenaline or dizziness on this mountain. I was simply enjoying the climb, from its start and until its end.
On the first two rappels, my rappel device felt warm. On the final rappels, I tried to do descend fast, which resulted in a burnt smell and a rappel device that I was unable to unmount, because of the temperature. As the guide was moving (at least) twice as fast, I didn't worry very strongly about burning off the rope. But I made a mental note of it...
Eventually, the fifth rappel was over, and we moved down to the secure point by "Gapet" where we took off the equipment and I could trade my climbing shoes for the hiking boots. Torill had climbed the mountain with regular hiking boots and earned extra "points" for this. She had worn these boots in "Andrews renne" on Store Skagastølstind as well, and I suspect that she will come to the conclusion that climbing shoes should be on the "purchase list".
We took a short-cut down into the valley and were back at the car 14:43PM. We drove back to Isfjorden where we sorted equipment and parted. Being somewhat obstructed by cows on the Vengedalen road seemed only natural, but less so when we met a huge tourist bus heading upwards. Fortunately, we were able to find a grassy spot on the side of the road, and avoided having to back up all the way to the cabin village. But seldom have I seen a more mis-placed vehicle than that bus on the Vengedalen road.
Thanks to Tore for the guided trip, and to Torill for the company!
Up to the climbing point
360 deg. wide-angle panorama
50mm panoramas, 2 parts
Other summit pics
Down the mountain
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